There are many ways to classify plants. Here at Kaʻahele Hawaiʻi we use the following categories:
Lāʻau Maoli / Native Hawaiian Plants
* Indigenous plants – Plants that got here without human help and may also be found in other places. Naupaka and hau are examples.
* Endemic plants – Plants that got here without human help and are ONLY found here. ʻŌhiʻa-Lehua and ʻāhinahina are examples.
Lāʻau Nahele / Uncultivated Plants
* Wild plants – Plants that got here without human help and grow uncultivated. ʻUluhe and koa are examples.
* Naturalized plants – Plants that got here with human help and grow uncultivated. Kukui and albizia are examples.
Lāʻau Kanu / Cultivated Plants
* Native and introduced plants – Plants which are cultivated and maintained through human intervention. Kalo and ʻolonā are examples.
Polynesian Introduction Plants / Canoe Plants
* Introduced plants – Plants which were brought by the early Polynesian settlers. Niu and maiʻa are examples.
Lāʻau Malihini / Lāʻau Haole / Post-Contact Plants
* Plants introduced after 1778 – Plants which were introduced to Hawaiʻi after Captain Cook’s arrival in 1778. Papaya and mango are examples.
Favorite Books on Hawaiian Plants: